We are reaching the part of the year where Christmas music is being blared in stores, trees are being bought and decorated, and most people are starting to think about gifts. (Unless you’re me…then you’ll wait until December 22nd before you start considering what you need to buy.)
Every single blog in the next month or so is going to publish something titled like this ‘what if your Christmas memories aren’t so good?’ or ‘what if there’s no joy when you hang the lights?’ Those posts are very needed because yeah, life is tough. Bad things don’t just stop happening because it’s the Christmas season. While some of us are working overtime, the devil is also working overtime.
But there are a lot of those posts. Around now, people’s stories start coming out about how Christmas is a struggle for them. There is no ‘joy to the world’. Stuff happened. And there is no more laughter. No more singing praises or carols.
No more JOY.
But in the same way that I argue that Christmas songs (some of them, not all!) should be played year-round, I want to argue that we need to talk about joy year-round too. Yes, we do. But nothing like when Christmas rolls around.
Because joy is hard.
The devil comes to steal our joy. He is the thief in the night, and he finds ways to take away the reasons to laugh. The reasons that we roll down the windows and sing at the top of our lungs. The part that makes us burst into a smile when someone walks into the room.
He doesn’t want us to have those moments.
Because when we are filled with joy, the devil’s grip starts to slip. Imagine it this way: when we’re down in the dumps for whatever reason, justified or just ‘being grumpy’, we’re easily catchable. Satan can easily latch on and wrap his arms around us. But the moment that we take that step into joy, we’re doused with oil. We become slippery. The more joy we have, the more slippery we become until there is no way he can hold on.
Obviously, he doesn’t want that.
What’s he going to do?
Steal whatever he can. Plant lies wherever he can. Drop little moments in our day that he knows might cause us to lose it. He does whatever possible to take away anything and everything.
Don’t give him that. You know he’s trying to do it, so fight back.
It always bothers me when Joy to the World is sung slowly. Slowly and with so little oomph. Unfortunately, it happens a lot and it annoys me. That song, more than almost any other Christmas song, needs to be blared from the rooftops, in particular the third verse.
He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love
And wonders of His love
And wonders, wonders of His love
THAT is why we need to have joy. Not because the tips were great today, or because gas went down, or because the news was surprisingly optimistic when you checked this morning. Not because you didn’t do anything horrible in the past few days, or because your spouse wants to hang out with you more than usual.
That’s how the world measures joy.
As Christians, we do not. At least…we shouldn’t.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. ~ Romans 15:13
We are filled with joy. Brimming over, spilling onto the customers we help, the saleslady who checks you out, the mailman who drops off your package. How about when you’re going through the food line at lunch? The joy we have as believers is not like the ‘joy’ the world receives. They say it’s based on our circumstances. The top definition of joy according to the Merriam-Webster says this:
The emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires
That’s what the world calls joy. If everything’s going great, then great! You should be smiling and laughing. Duh.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! ~ Philippians 4:4
It doesn’t say to rejoice (which means to feel or show great joy or delight) when everything’s going well. Not when there’s a discount on your favorite candy. But ALWAYS.
And why should we?
Because of JESUS.
Without him, we are on a fast track to hell. With him, we are given grace and redemption. Without him, we are broken creatures. With him, we are whole and complete in his eyes.
You make known to me the path of life, you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. ~ Psalm 16:11
That doesn’t mean that our lives will be perfect. They will be far from that at times, but the one thing that remains with us, rain or shine, is God’s hand on our backs, guiding us. He never leaves, and being in his presence brings us joy, no matter what the circumstance or sin or day or moment in time.
I can speak from experience when I say that a joyless life is not the life that God wants for any of us. We have been given the best gift anyone could ever receive: grace. With that, we are able to live our lives with the confidence that we are healed, protected, and saved.
Joy to the World is just a song that people sing at Christmas, but I want to challenge everyone reading this to find a reason to hum it as you do the monotonous tasks of life, or when the devil is dangling his little web of lies in front of you face. Don’t live in the world that says that everything has to be perfect for us to be happy.
People love it when they get smiles from others. But they get curious when they see joy. Joy in the midst of trouble. Joy during a time of need. Joy always. That’s when they start asking questions. Wondering why you feel this way.
And then you get to tell them. That’s when it gets fun.
Start small. Find joy in the little things. Even if you have to search for it, find it in the way traffic stops together. Or in the 4 cent coupon for gas. Or the way the blankets envelope you as you get into bed. Find something, no matter how small, and the devil’s grip starts slipping. Get bigger and more, and his grip starts sliding more.
Don’t let the devil steal your joy. Fight back. Jump into God’s presence. Let the Creator of the Universe swarm you with his love, peace, and grace. And with that comes boundless joy, no matter what’s going or what you did. God gives freely and he wants you to have everything he has to offer too.
That includes BOUNDLESS JOY!!!!!!